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Regular folks share their prepper stories


By Kaye Estoista-Koo

Chiara Gonzales is 12 years old. Unlike most kids her age, she took seriously what she learned in school several years ago, as she became a prepper. One thing she wishes everyone would prepare is, she says, “in terms of physical objects, water for hydration, and a minor first aid kit because you never know what type of injury you might get.”

One thing people forget is to remain calm. She adds, “Everyone needs to have a disaster plan and remain calm during any calamity because usually when you panic, you tend to cause a commotion and cause tension in the people around you.” She lives in Quezon City with her family and she takes the extra mile in preparation for any disaster: “Aside from the disaster kit that is always ready in the house, one inside the car should also be prepared. The best is to have the house be earthquake-proof but if that is not an option, at least make sure that the stuff or appliances near your bed won’t cause further accidents. Beds should be kept away from mirrors or any heavy objects or things hanging on the wall. Make sure everyone, including house help, knows of the disaster plan for any scenario. We also have a list of phone numbers to call in case of calamities.” Her quick tips for anyone who doesn’t have a plan in place yet: “Make a list of what you need to bring or include in your disaster bag. Second, think of your disaster and escape plans. Third, always bring your disaster bag with you, or at least the most important objects like flashlight, whistle, pen, paper, canned goods, water, candies, rope, crackers, knife, candles, matches, important documents, blanket, clothes, shoes, and a battery-operated radio.”

  • Aftermath we don’t know when the next earthquake will strike. It’s best to be prepared. (Images by Jun Ryan Arañas)

  • (Image by Jun Ryan Arañas)

  • (Image by Jun Ryan Arañas)

  • (Image by Jun Ryan Arañas)

  • (Image by Jun Ryan Arañas)

    Lianne Tan-Yu lives with her family of three in Pasig City, near a fault line. For her, the one thing people forget when making up disaster bags is “a raincoat! You need this in case the weather gets cold or it rains.” She is a different kind of prepper as she even has ashitaba, a plant with miraculous healing properties. Because viral disease is becoming more common and stronger, we bring this with us wherever we go for local land trips as it helps improve health naturally. |When we travel abroad, I bring my own chia seeds and flaxseeds.” She admits she started prepping years ago. She says, “I am kind of a paranoid person, so I think it’s inherent in me to want to be ready for any eventualities.” Also, her nannies and house help were very forgetful so she stepped in. Her quick strategy is this: “We have our fire extinguishers regularly checked; we always make sure we have enough rice, water, and canned goods, meaning we always replenish this. We also taught each member of the family that in the event a disaster strikes, to meet at a certain area in the house so we don’t go crazy trying to look for each other. We review all these steps from time to time.”

    Sheilanie Po-Cheung lives with her family of four in Pasig. As a mother to two young toddlers, being overly prepared is second nature to her. She believes the most forgotten but practical items to keep are “a whistle and flashlight! Many would prepare food and medicines. But having a whistle and flashlight is important; it’s something I learned in school many years ago. This can save one’s life, as a call for help. Also, bringing blankets wherever you are is important too.” For Sheilanie, taking the extra step to prepare is a necessity because “having kids now is different from when I was single.” Her basic strategy: “It’s simple and it starts at home. I orient the kids and the house help on the first thing to do or where to go if, for example, an earthquake strikes. We have a grab bag, a backpack, and ready in our sala on the ground floor that we can grab whenever there is an emergency. Inside, we put in clothes, blankets, first aid tools and medicine, water, snacks, flashlight, and whistle. If a disaster happens when the kids are at school, we also have instructions for them where to meet us.”

    Irene Pacana-Liwanag is 40, married, with one 16-year-old son, and a ‘slave of TV,’ working in production for a TV network. She’s been a practical prepper since Typhoon Ondoy struck Metro Manila. She even joked that she doesn’t consider herself a serious prepper, just that “we have one rule, where do we meet up in case we are not together when a disaster strikes.” That’s why they have this plan in place: “We have a go-to place in case disaster happens and we are not together. When Dylan, my son, was much younger, our go-to was McDonald’s or Jollibee. Now, Ministop, 7-11, and the University Oval in the University of the Philippines-Diliman have been included.” Her best tips? “We put all our important documents in one bag. My husband bought a transistor radio in case electricity in our area shuts down.” They live in Batasan, Quezon City and have a supply of extra flashlights. She adds, “We always have bottled water in each room of the house.”

    Tricia Castrodes lives with her family of five in Marikina City. She is critically aware of and has been affected by the disasters that can happen and have happened in her city. For her, the thing that people forget when preparing for a disaster is not physical but mental—“the mindset that the normal way of life can stop for three days to at least a week when disaster strikes and that we won’t have access to basic needs to survive, such that there will be no groceries, banks, or hospitals.” She started becoming more conscious about the prepper mindset when she had kids, even though she admits to “always thinking of things in advance, like what contingencies to do if my luggage gets lost.” She doesn’t mind taking the extra step to prepare “because it’s for my family, I just want to make sure that I did my best to prepare and care for them.” Her SOP when it comes to disasters are the following: “We have continuous briefing within the family especially the kids on what to do and where to go, like our set meeting place. We have prepared emergency kits which include food and medical supplies. We also briefed all of our staff, including the drivers, on where to go and what to do. We also join community-led or school-led drills for disasters.”

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